Bangkok Street Dogs

A place to learn about the lives of street dogs in Bangkok, Thailand, with emphasis on the individual characters of the Bangkok street dog community and their stories of hardship and humor.

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

What's that you say? 2012 Is Here?


Did I hear you correctly? I thought I heard you say something about the New Year coming -- is it 2012?

Anyway, my name is Chuckie. I'm a three year old Labrador mix who used to live on the streets near Chatuchak market, but recently got adopted by a noodle vendor.

I'm not sure what the coming year will hold, but I do know that the one that just passed hasn't been all that great, for humans or for Bangkok street dogs. We've gone through a lot, but you know what? We survived it!

Thailand has had plenty of political storm clouds hanging over it this past year. We've also had literal storm clouds hanging over us and dumping epochal amounts of rain in our hinterland, which led to floods in Bangkok that the city's residents are still recovering from. For many, it was a disaster -- some people lost their homes, and other lost so much more. For these people, I pause a moment in remembrance, and to offer my condolences. After all, we dogs are your humans best friends.

We all hope the coming year is going to be better. Of course, we have no idea if that will be the case. But all we can do is keeping putting each foot, each paw in front of the other, marching together into 2012. I hope it's full of very good things for the people of Thailand, and for my street dog brethren.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Introducing Sea Lion


This is my buddy Sea Lion. I gave him that nickname because out of all my friends, he's by far the one who most closely resembles an actual sea lion. As you can see from his collar, he's not a homeless dog. In fact, he could probably use a good extended diet. He lives in the market area around the Victory Monument and his owner is a noodle vendor.

This proximity is why Sea Lion is so fat -- he gobbles down people's leftover noodles all day long. His owner is usually busy, so it's easy for Sea Lion to shuffle around and do it without being noticed. When he's not doing that, he kind of just sits around and stares into space, thinking about the next food mission. And then he goes home every night, and comes back early the next morning.

OK, so I realize that Sea Lion looks pretty shiftless. Maybe even lazy. But he's a good listener, and while he doesn't talk much, what he does say has valuable insight about what's important to life. He's 4 years old, but wise way beyond his years.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Standing In The Shadows


What's up? I'm Ivan, a 4 year old dog who lives in northern Bangkok. It's kind of hot today so I'm just chilling in the shadows, trying not to move around too much. If you've never been to Bangkok, it's damn hot this time of year and there's really no escaping it.

But the good news is, it's also mango season, and I can find tasty morsels of the fruit in pretty much any sidewalk trash can I go snuffling through. It's pretty awesome. The only thing that sucks is when there's also a durian shell in the trash can. Those things hurt like hell and I've had times where the spines stuck in my nose and snout. It doesn't tickle, trust me.

Anyway, I guess that's kind of like life, too. Meaning, even when there's good stuff going on, like mango season, there's also stuff you gotta watch out for. Living on the streets of Bangkok isn't easy but one thing I can say is that it's never boring.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find a nice shady spot to take a nap.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm Back After A Long Nap -- What'd I Miss?


This is my good buddy Travis, who is famous for taking more naps per day than any other dog in Bangkok. He has not been diagnosed with canine narcolepsy, but more often than not you'll find him snoozing in the shadows on scorching Bangkok afternoons. It's just what he does.

For me, sleeping is kind of scary -- I guess it's that weird feeling of letting go that bothers me the most. Plus, I'm the kind of person who experiences life in gulps, instead of just sips, which means I don't like not being conscious.

That's why I have a lot of respect for Travis, he'll sleep for days on end, and when he wakes up, he doesn't seem particulaly interested in hearing about what he missed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Julian the Bangkok Bus Stowaway


Meeting Julian, a smiley little devil who's shown here waiting for a metro bus to come by so he can quietly sneak onto it, usually through the back door. Julian lives in the Asok district of the city, but he enjoys seeing other parts of the city as well, and he deserves a lot of credit for figuring out a way to make it happen.

Hiding out in the backs of buses is stressful, but the people Julian meets along the way are pretty nice, and he's made a lot of friends. That's why he looks so happy in this photo -- he's looking forward to hopping on the #23 bus and making some new acquaintances.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mickey the Accidental Paw Print Artist


Hey, I'm Mickey, a 2 year old Labrador Retriever who's got some other mixed canine heritage too, just not sure what. It doesn't matter much to me though. I just like hanging out, smiling, and thinking about stuff. Not too much though, my momma told me once that too much thinking can get you in trouble.

I do wish I had thought a little bit before walking into that wet cement though. Lucky for me, I only stepped into it with my right paw before I realized what was going on. It's kind of embarrassing, and other dogs have been teasing me about it, but it's supposed to rain this evening and that should wash off most of it.

Wanna know the really cool thing? My paw print will be in that sidewalk forever. Well, maybe not forever. There isn't anything in life that's forever. Let's just say that paw print will be there for quite a while. And I'm OK with that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Heidi the Therapy Hound


Meet Heidi, a 3.5 year old dog who loves spending time in Bangkok pharmacies peforming a variety of tasks for which she receives no payment other than peoples' smiles. Heidi is what's known as a therapy dog, an animal that greets customers as they arrive and helps them figure out what purchases to make.

Heidi is an independent analyst with vast knowledge of various pharmaceutical products. Because she's not beholden to any one drug manufacturer, Heidi can provide objective recommendations. That's a rare commodity in a time when drug companies seem to hold all the cards.

Shoppers love the unwaveringly friendly attitude that Heidi exhibits, and her services are in demand in many different parts of the Thai capital.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Come On Now, Let's Have A Kiss


My, what a romantic evening. The stars, the moon, and the clouds in the sky seem to all be aligned in the most picturesque possible way. Damn, it's stunning!

In light of this confluence of undeniable beauty, I was hoping you might give me a kiss. Yes, right now. You heard me, girlfriend.

What's that you say? You've got a headache? Yea, never heard that one before. Pretty original. Sorry babe, that excuse ain't gonna fly.

Here's how it's going to go down: We're going to smooch romantically under this sparkling canopy of stars, or I'm going to bite you. Playfully, of course, but with enough channeled intensity to hopefully sweep you off your paws. It's going to tickle, too. Your call.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Meet Hank The Softie


Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to meet Hank, a 1.5 year old hound who's just one of the most sentimental fellows you'll ever come across.

Kind. Gentle. Caring. These are all adjectives that apply to Hank, although he's so humble that he always runs away and hides whenever the compliments starting raining down.

Hank likes to think a lot about life. He's a big fan of older movies, and can often be seen wiping away a tear during the really emotional moments. Hank isn't shy about expressing his emotions, which is notable in a city like Bangkok, where dogs can get hardened by the street in a hurry.

Hank is pictured here waiting for a street worker to arrive to work and sweep the dusty sidewalks. These are people from the less glamorous stations in life, but Hank has found them to be kind folks, and so he makes it a point to be there when they start their day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mollie The Mama Dog


This is Mollie, a 3 year old mutt of mixed German Shepherd, Siberian Husky, and a whole lot of other stuff. She's a smiley gal who always enjoys a good belly laugh. Says it's healthy or something, I don't know.

Mollie is a master of impressions, and the face she's pulling here is supposed to be that of Julie, the broom-selling entrepreneur dog I profiled in a post last August. Julie's kind of a serious dog, and Mollie likes to poke fun at her stern demeanour. That kind of makes Julie angry, though, so Mollie only does it when she's not around.

Mollie's impressions have brought us Bangkok street dogs a lot of laughter, and sometimes, she performs them at just the right time, like when we all really need a laugh.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Confronted By Indecision


Man, with so many beverage choices, what's a thirsty dog to do? I feel like I need a tour guide just to help me decide what to get!

Anyway, I'm Ralph, a 3.5 year old mixed breed who lives near Sukhumvit 101, and could probably stand to lose a few pounds. I'm not self conscious about it at all though. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want, and I don't subscribe to the notion that dogs should ever have to calorie count. Life is so short, and sometimes, full of suffering -- why not have fun?

(OK, so I stole the above line from the Woody Allen movie, 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona', which is one of the better films I've seen in a while).

Anyway, so yeah, I'm trying to figure out what to drink -- should I go for the milk, or satisfy my perpetual sugar craving with a nice, fructose-loaded iced coffee? Oh, and I will probably be needing a snack as well, which adds even more weight to the drink decision.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Meet Socks


Hi everyone, sorry I've been out of touch for a while, I know, I'm one lazy dog.

But I'm back now. And here's my new friend Socks, a 2 year old black mutt with distinctive white paws. Isn't she cool?

When I was younger, I went through a phase where I dyed my paws white to achieve the whole 'wearing socks' effect. But Socks has it going on in a natural way. I would kill to have such beautiful paws. Actually, I'm pretty non-violent, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, Socks is very laid back and happy, and she loves posing for photos. She's one of those dogs that I look to after I've had a hard day and feeling down about stuff. After hanging with Socks for a while, though, that depression goes away. She's like a natural mood enhancer.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"Yea, I Miss You Guys Too"

This is Barley, a 4 year old brownish dog who used to drift around the alleys and streets of Bangkok, but now lives in America. Barley was (and still is) one of the most popular individuals in the Bangkok street dog community, and still has a huge group of friends. Barley is not only a friendly dog, he's also an athletic one. And like my friends High Jumping Harry and Stretch, Barley used to apply his athleticism to help obtain food for his friends.

Barley's most legendary exploit was the time when he somehow managed to knock over the cart of a roasted chicken seller in a Chinatown market who wasn't paying attention. I don't know how Barley did it, he kind of just threw himself at the cart, and the thing toppled over, spilling several delectable roast chickens into the street, where they were summarily devoured by me and several other street dogs. Damn, that was a great day.

Barley, like Ricardo, another good friend of mine, was adopted by tourists when he was a pup, an event that whisked him away from the near-certainty of a hardscrabble life in the Thai capital. Now Barley lives with his family in San Francisco, California.

But Barley still misses his buddies back in Bangkok. And he's pictured here during one of his weekly marathon phone calls to his friends there. He just calls a pay phone down in the Silom district of Bangkok and a bunch of us dogs go down and pass the phone around and reminisce about the good old days.

Don't get me wrong -- Barley loves San Francisco -- but there is undeniably a piece of his heart that never really left Bangkok.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Introducing Sally

Hey everyone, I'd like you to meet Sally, a 2 year old female who's pictured here snoozing on a Sunday Bangkok morning at 6:45 a.m. Well, she's actually trying to pretend she's still asleep, when in reality, her mind is spinning like a hamster wheel. At this moment, life is spilling in on the fringes of Sally's consciousness, in the form of people and cars and motorcycles arriving to chase her out of the vacant market area and send her reluctantly into the day.

Sally is sick and tired of breathing in the constant stream of pollution emanating from vehicles in the Thai capital. She's holding out hope, however, that people will heed the words of His Majesty The King, who recently urged Thais to step up their use of biodiesel fuel in order to begin reducing the city's choking air pollution.

Sally isn't overly idealistic though. She's fully aware that changing peoples' habits and effecting environmental change are slow processes that require infinite patience. She plans to help further the cause herself by spreading the word in the Bangkok street dog community. As soon as she finishes this nap.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ricardo the Art Aficonado

Ricardo the Art Aficionado

This is Ricardo, a brown 4 year old brownish hound who really looks nothing like any stray dog you'd encounter on the streets of Bangkok. And that's because Ricardo had the good fortune of being adopted when he was younger by an Italian family and brought back to their homeland. His story is testimony to the efforts of organizations both inside and outside Thailand that help street dogs find happy homes all over the world.

Since coming to live with a family on the outskirts of Florence, Italy, Ricardo has become a big art aficionado. And that's why he's pictured sulking in this photo. He enjoys visiting Florence's Uffizi Gallery, where many of the world's finest pieces of art are displayed. But he wishes that the reportedly large number of works at the Uffizi that remain stored away in back rooms, out of the gaze of the public, will someday be accessible. So that they may be treasured like the rest.

Ricardo hasn't been back to Thailand since being adopted, but his human family has, and they recently brought back several paintings that they purchased from local Bangkok artists at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. After seeing these paintings, Ricardo was very pleased to see that the engine of artistic creativity is alive and well in the city of his birth.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Introducing Monty

Meet Monty, a 1.5 year old black and white male who possesses a friendly, confident demeanor, despite his position as a Bangkok stray dog. Some might expect a dog that finds himself at the bottom of the social ladder would withdraw into a shell, or become bitter and angry, but Monty's not that type of dog. He's an upbeat fellow with a spirit of social awareness and activism, the type of character whose energy is positively contagious.

Recently, city officials investigated Bangkok's Pata Zoo after reports that the animals were being kept in less than acceptable conditions. Although the zoo passed the inspection, Monty was upset over the possibility that his animal brethren could be suffering.

So, he rounded up a bunch of other Bangkok strays, organized an effort to collect scraps of mango and other fine fruits sold at the Klong Toey market, and brought them to the animals in the zoo after closing one night. That's just the kind of guy he is.

Monty is also a big fan of the London-based World Society for the Protection of Animals, which announced plans in September to set up its Asian headquarters in Bangkok.

Monty isn't the kind of activist who carries the world on his shoulders, however. He believes that meaningful change as it applies to improving the lives of his fellow Bangkok street dogs doesn't necessarily have to happen quickly to be effective. But he does think it should be steady.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Introducing Julie the Entrepreneur

This is Julie, a black and white mutt that lives in the Chatuchak Weekend Market in northern Bangkok. She's zoning out, looking at the crowds of people walking by, from all over the world, and it's hot, and humid, and blazingly sunny, and you might even say the weather conditions aren't fit for a dog.

But there's great shopping here. Julie knows this, and she's contemplating just how powerful the draw of the market is. And she's trying to figure out how to capitalize on it by opening up her own business. Because that cart full of feather dusters to her right is just not the glamorous, hot item that shoppers are flocking to on this day.

But Julie has no business experience, which means she's jumping around from idea to idea - dog toys, liver flavored milkshakes, and tongue massages are a few of the ideas she's come up with -- but she has yet to come up a guaranteed moneymaker of an idea. Once that happens, Julie plans to open her own shop in the empty space upon which she's standing.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Introducing Sam

Meet Sam, a shy, 3 year old brown mutt who in this photo is seen lounging outside a shop in the Chinatown district of Bangkok. He's a quiet fellow, but there's a lot of thinking going on inside that canine cranium.

Sam has been sitting in front of the same shop in Chinatown since he was a pup, content to watch life pass by in the busy way it often does in that part of the capital. It's noisy, dusty, hot, and smoky sometimes, but it never seems to bother Sam or interrupt his thoughts.

If Sam looks a little forlorn here, that's because he just broke up with his girlfriend, Rosie, a 2 year old grayish mutt who I never liked much anyway. I wasn't surprised when she broke my buddy's heart, and I tried to warn him, but hey, sometimes the toughest lessons you have to learn all by yourself.

Anyway, I'm meeting up with Sam later and we're going to head out to the Klong Toey market to tip over a few trash cans and hopefully feast on whatever edible scraps we can find. I don't know of a better way to lift a friend's spirits than to snuffle through some fresh garbage together.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Introducing Rowdy Roger and His Pals

This jolly chap is Roger, an orange, fox-like 2 year old Bangkok street dog who loves running around with his buddies and getting into trouble, although the behavior is usually good natured and friendly. When other dogs get bored, they tend to lounge around and sweat and sleep, but Roger gets out there and explores the Thai capital. He's just real energetic that way.

In this photo, Roger and his pals were running around near the port in Klong Toey, in the southernmost part of Bangkok. They like to hang around and watch the cargo ships come in, and the dock workers sometimes throw them scraps of their lunches. The big prize, however -- and the real reason they like the docks at the port so much -- is that sometimes, large shipments of dog food come in from abroad. And they all dream of going to town on some gigantic shipment of kibbles and bits while there's no one watching!

Recently, Roger and his buddies were hanging out at the docks and saw the Heidleberg Express, a cargo ship out of Bremen, Germany, steam into port. According to the Bangkok Post, the ship was carrying several cargo containers of kibble. As the dogs gazed longingly at the dock workers unloading the containers, Roger and friends began drooling at the almost incomprehensible delights that could possibly lie inside.

But a strong moral compass, and cognizance of right and wrong, keeps Roger and his pals out of trouble. Although they probably could have hatched a scheme to steal some of the dog food, perhaps by distracting one of the dock workers with a staged dogfight, Roger and the boys instead reluctantly left the port and decided to go check out the scene in Lumpini Park.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Caught In The Act

I caught this sneaky little devil -- a good friend of mine -- catching a drink from a roadside noodle stand very close to the Queen Sirikit Center in Bangkok. She think's no one's watching, but she's wrong. But Bessie, a two year old white hound of mixed terrier/ridgeback heritage, can drink to her heart's content at this particular noodle shop, because the proprietors always leave a full bowl of fresh water out for her.

Bessie is thirsty because she's been chasing cats in the 95 degree F March heat. In Thailand this time of year, it gets so hot you can feel it in your soul, but that doesn't keep Bessie from engaging in her favorite pastime: Scaring the holy hell out of cats by chasing every one she sees on the streets of Bangkok.

It's pure sport to Bessie -- she's harmless -- but the cats don't usually stick around to verify that for themselves.

In fact, in this photo, Bessie had just sensed a cat passing by across the street, behind her. She's actually got very strong rearview radar, and about 10 seconds after I snapped this shot, was hot on the trail of a grayish brown stray cat. I could hear the sound of her howling and barking as she receded from view into the crowded Klong Toey market.

Later, as we sat and chatted together on a sidewalk in the humid night, Bessie recounted the story with a kind of childlike enthusiasm that made me smile.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Introducing Marco the Intellectual

Marco is a 5 year old white dog who doesn't bathe often, but still manages to maintain a large circle of close friendships with other street dogs in Bangkok. The secret to his popularity is the fact that he's a tough guy, a real bruiser, but also a bit of an intellectual as well.

This unique combination of brains and brawn means that Marco can hold his own in a variety of settings. He's just as comfortable taking part in a snarling junkyard dogfight as he is dropping by the local library for a Kafka reading. Marco's views on postmodernism have landed him in many a debate with local canine thought leaders, but somehow he always emerges from these discussions as the clear winner, leaving other pseudo-intellectual dogs to lick their wounds, so to speak.

Whenever I talk to Marco, I'm amazed by how he's able to get right to the truth that underlies all things. That's a tough thing to do when you're a street dog in Bangkok, and life's realities are mostly harsh. Most dogs prefer not to think too much, and we mostly live in the moment. Which isn't a bad way to get through the day, I guess.

But Marco's an old soul -- he sees that his predicament as a stray dog in a large city isn't as bad as it seems. Marco's friendships, and the knowledge he's built up over the years, prevent him from ever getting lonely out there on the dusty streets of the Thai capital.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Introducing Lenny

No, he's not an laughing hyena. But doesn't he kind of look like one?

Meet Lenny, a 5 year brown street dog of Chow Chow ancestry. He's pictured here sunning himself on the sidewalk of a busy city street, chuckling as he watches the madcap procession of people, motorcycles, cars, and trucks pass by. That crazy smile on his face causes people to give him a wide berth, but Lenny's one of the docile creatures on this earth.

The urban cacophony of Bangkok is deafening, but Lenny doesn't mind sitting and watching life go by. He loves just being out there on the streets, soaking it all in, laughing at the improbability of life. He also loves thinking about the interconnectedness of all things, and how, when its all said and done, and the sun has sunk below the Chao Praya river horizon for the last time, his molecules will mix with those of the cosmos.

Pondering such things is more than just a way for Lenny to get through the rough realities of being a street dog. Its a badge of belonging that he wears, one that that makes up for the collar he doesn't have around his neck - i.e. the one he would have if he had a home.

But you'll almost always see Lenny smiling if you happen to catch a glimpse of him someday. (Except when he's eating, because it's kind of hard to smile when you're eating without looking like a disgusting slob).

And that smile is Lenny's way of saying, "There are too many things to be happy about in this world."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Introducing Ronnie the Racer

This is my buddy Ronnie, she's a two year old light brownish mutt who loves to run, and spends most of her time training with sprints up and down the streets of Bangkok. She's developed a healthy enthusiam over the years for racing cars and buses, and more often than not she wins these races easily.

Ronnie is pictured here catching her breath after spending an afternoon doing wind sprints up and down Ratchadapisek Road on a humid, 95 degree day. She also loves going to the motorcycle races that take place all over the capital on Saturday nights, which are fueled by large numbers of bored young people looking for excitement. (Much as they are in the rest of the world, from what I hear).

Ronnie has yet to win one of her races with the motorcycles -- which is hardly surprising when one considers that the motorcycles often exceed speeds of 110 miles per hour -- but she regularly beats tuktuks and taxi meters whenever they challenge her.

In a city where every human and dog seems to be constantly running from one place to another, Ronnie has carved out a niche as Bangkok's premier canine sprinter. The 2008 Olympics are just around the corner and I wouldn't be surprised to see Ronnie bring home a few medals from Beijing.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Meet Vanity the Clothes Hound

Hey, I'd like you to meet my friend Vanity, who is in this photo engaging in one of her favorite pastimes: browsing a local market and shopping for clothes. Vanity is a three year old brown and white mutt who loves to shop and has a real nose for bargains, although some Bangkok store owners aren't exactly overjoyed when they see her rummaging through the clothing racks.

Just after I took the above photo, Vanity ended up buying the lime green blouse on the left, which I frankly think is a ghastly color. But, then again, I'm a guy with very little fashion sense, so what do I know?

In fact, Vanity once offered to help me with a wardrobe makeover, but I declined her offer because, well, I don't need anyone giving me advice on how to get ahead and score points in the game of romance, know what I mean?

She might not look like the cleanest dog in the world in these photos, but Vanity knows how to look her best when she attends local dog shows and other canine high society events in the Thai capital. She's always impeccably dressed and well coiffed, and there's usually a good looking male dog by her side.

As for me, Vanity and I tried dating once, but it didn't work out. We've still stayed pretty close though, and she loves telling me all the gory details from her nights out on the town. Which she has made me promise not to relate in this blog, for fear of cannibalizing sales of her upcoming book on the subject.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Introducing Hanging Chad

Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to meet my buddy Chad, a 2 year old white mutt who in this photo appears somewhat brownish in color (he really needs a bath). We call him Hanging Chad because he's a slow paced guy who enjoys just hanging out, sitting and relaxing and watching life go by from spots all over Bangkok. He loves just hanging out, relaxing and not worrying about stuff.

In this photo, Chad is chilling out in a shady spot in a vacant lot off Sukhumvit Soi 22, and ruminating on philosphical subjects, one of his favorite pastimes. Chad also likes to sit along busy, traffic-choked streets in Bangkok and think, and sometimes even sits in the road itself, believing that the noise and chaos actually help clarify his thoughts. Chad once tried to climb a tree in Lumpini Park in order to meditate among its leafy upper reaches, but slipped and fell, landing on his head. However, Chad said the mishap -- and the ensuing concussion -- enabled his to reach parts of his inner psyche that he'd previously been able to reach only while asleep.

Chad has a very accepting outlook toward life, and he once told me that despite the hardship that many Bangkok street dogs experience in their lives, he feels it's much better to be a dog than to be some sort of horrid creature like a beetle, rat, or a cockroach. And that's how Chad manages to keep a smile on his face during the rough times. He's one of the most stable and truly happy hounds I've come across.

My friends have always thought he was a nutcase, but Chad is just a free spirit who does things his own way -- and makes no apologies for being different from the pack.